What is 360 Degree Feedback Really?

by Jan Yuill

This topic came up while talking with some public servants last week.

A 360 Degree Feedback process usually includes feedback from boss(es), peers, and direct reports – upward, downward, and all around – hence, the 360 degree term.

When we use the Organizations Alive! Model as a thinking framework, bosses, peers, and direct reports are included in the Customer Service quadrant. They are the people you serve. You write reports for your boss. You support your team mates. You guide subordinates as they do their work.

Being service-minded with these people can save you a whole lot of grief. When you realize they have expectations, wants, needs, and perceptions of whether or not they are ‘happy,’ serving takes on a whole new meaning. What is the point of writing a report for your boss is you haven’t found out if he wants 2 pages or 10? If he wants it electronically or in hard copy? If he wants it first thing on Thursday morning, or at the end of the day? If he wants you to schedule a meeting with him, to have you walk him through it, or if he wants to read it alone and then discuss it with you at a later date? Wouldn’t the answers to these questions make it easier for you to write and deliver the report? Wouldn’t you feel more confident as you pulled it together?

We will not become effective, efficient, and economical until we think of everyone in the workplace as our customer. That is why we are there. To meet expectations, wants, and needs (which are also called goals and objectives!) of others.

So how can you get good feedback from your boss, peers, and direct reports? Begin with service in mind. And then think of them all as your customers.